DeSean Jackson understood exactly how the Philadelphia Eagles were going to defend him and what was in the cards whenever he was targeted. He'd seen it in practice for years while he was on their sideline.
That's why his performance Saturday in a game that the Washington Redskins would win, putting a serious dent in the Eagles' playoff hopes in the process, was so sweet.
Facing single coverage throughout the game, Jackson – playing in his second game against the team that drafted him – hauled in four receptions for 126 yards.
Telling the media after the game that the Eagles' "can care less who's out there or who's at wide receiver" when it comes to coverage tendencies, Jackson was happy to provide the Redskins the spark on offense they'd been seeking for weeks.
"I take pride in big plays and being that guy, say one of the biggest deep people of the year, biggest player of the year, things like that, regardless of my stretch or my height," he said. "When that ball is in the air, I'm going to track it down."
Jackson said those abilities are no fluke, however.
"I've practiced a long time, a lot of hours, many weeks, many days doing that," he said. "I just credit my trainers when I was younger. They just said, 'We're going to get up, we're going to go early in the morning and just go work out.' It paid off."
While Jackson's first catch of the game went for seven yards, his next three catches were for 51, 13 and 55 yards respectively.
His 51-yard reception in the second quarter gave him 1,000 for the season, becoming only the fifth Redskin (Bobby Mitchell in 1962, Henry Ellard in 1994, Laveranues Coles in 2003 and Santana Moss in 2005) to cross that mark in their first season in Washington.
Jackson also wasn't shy in giving praise to the coaches in exploiting the Eagles' weaknesses and attacking them.
"I'm just glad I was able to get the opportunities I got on them," he said. "That all goes to the play calling. [Head Coach] Jay Gruden and [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] made some great calls. They play how they play. They don't care. That's the Philadelphia Eagles' defense.
"I've been there a lot of years and witnessed a lot of players, wide receivers, tight ends get off some huge games on them. I'm just happy to be on that side and send them home with a loss."
Calling it "their style of play," Gruden told the media that he understood why they chose to defend Jackson they way that did, but that didn't stop him from calling plays designed to get Jackson in open field deep down the field.
"They've had success with that all year and they expect their corners to come in and compete and they've done that all year and they've had a lot of success," he said. "DeSean… That's not the first time DeSean has ever been singled, nor will it be the last – just good to see him run by the guys. ... Good to see Robert [Griffin III] put the ball out there so he could go get it."
Griffin III, who was making his first start since Week 13 vs. the San Francisco 49ers, credited all of the receivers, including Jackson.
"D-Jax brings a big spark," he started. "He can make some plays that no one else can. We have a lot of guys like that. Pierre made some big plays tonight. Andre [Roberts], Santana [Moss], [Ryan] Grant, all these guys make plays for us.
"Tight ends are phenomenal, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed. Our offensive line, they continue to battle and that's all you can ask for. ... When we step on that field, I don't want guys that are going to quit. We don't have any of those guys so that's a great feeling," he said.
Much was made of Jackson's departure from Philadelphia this past spring. After spending his first six seasons there -- three of which concluded with Pro Bowl selections -- Jackson was released before quickly being gobbled up by the Redskins on the open market.
Proving to still be that same big-time threat that took the league by storm while a member of the Eagles, Jackson now has nine receptions for 243 yards (27.0 avg.) in two career games against his former team.
Deflecting attention away from his relationship with former Eagles teammates, though, Jackson said he's "happy to be in Washington" and was impressed with the entire team's effort in the victory on Saturday.
"Overall, as a team, I think everybody mentally was focused on that and came in prepared and did everything we needed to do," he said. "That was a tough game, but at the end of the day we came out on top. It was very special for myself, being there last year and everything happening.
"For us to come out on top like that, that's a great one. I give a shout out to all my boys in the locker room."